Total Pageviews

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Part 6: Section A: Follow-Up, The Lessons

Part 6:   Follow-Up, The Lessons, Section A.

"If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry.  If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying.  There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever."  Dalai Lama XIV

"One should not increase beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything."  Occam's Razor, often interpreted modernly as 'the simplest solution is usually the best' or that 'the simplest answer is usually correct'.

I followed up with my doctor at early Sick Bay first thing Monday morning.  I was informed by the nurse taking my vitals that they don't usually do hospital stay follow-ups in Sick Bay (ok, what is up with these medical people?  Are they TRYING to make us feel bad???), to which I replied as kindly as I possibly could that I had spoken with my doc on the phone and that it had been HER suggestion that I come in Monday a.m.  (I refrained from sticking out my tongue at her and saying 'so there!', reminding myself that I'm not a 9 year old...).

Doc comes in, I bring her up to speed about E.R. trip number 2, and about the return of my hives and how I am grasping at straws about this development.  She says that some people will get hives when they get nervous.  Wha????   I quickly dismiss this and go back to being allergic to something in the E.R., but this lodges stiffly in my cerebral cortex or wherever it is that I keep stuff that will come back to haunt me.

She puts me on a short course of prednisone saying that if there is anything left in my body that I'm allergic to, that'll take care of's a step-down program of two days of 4 pills, two days of 3 pills, two days of 2, two days of 1; you can't just stop taking that stuff abruptly.  I bristle at the thought of more meds, but figure my liver can handle it since I don't drink or do meds of any kind, and anything is better than those hives.  At this point, I'm pretty much walking around jumping at every little twinge on my skin, going 'is that a hive?', 'is that one?'.

We discuss my esophagus/gastric issue and she confides that she has a reflux issue and that the only way she feels it is in the center of her back---this to my concern over how the pain started at my sternum and went straight back to my back.  The place she is touching on her back is the precise area where my pain radiated to.  So I'm thinking, ok, that sounds similar.  She confirms that this type of pain, if esopageal or hiatal hernial, can be extremely painful.  We talk about causes and I don't have the main two which is smoking and drinking or obesity and diet; the third is a bacteria, H. Pylori and she had ordered that test when I was in the hospital.  At the time of my visit to her office, we still didn't have the results of that and I'll need to call and follow up on that (I did call, test was negative, back to square one).  I'm to schedule a follow up appt. with her in 6 weeks.

She has me on double doses of Prevacid for those 6 weeks to eliminate acid the logic being that this will give my body time to heal whatever it is in my esophagus or wherever.  Since I feel better at this point, and really it was just a matter of days before nearly all symptoms were gone, I really want to stop taking this, but I fear divorce court in my future as my husband says I need to give my body more time to ensure complete healing.  He's been such a hero for me through all of this trauma, that I quickly agreed to comply.


About mid-way through writing up all of this ordeal, I got the feeling that perhaps I shouldn't be airing the totality of these events on the world-wide-web-ernet, but then I realized that there just are too many lessons here, too many caveats and precautionary aspects to not share.  Probably much of this experience has been a fluke, but already I have found a couple of other people who had similar experiences.  One eerily similar account only with a different category of symptoms; if protocol one in the E. R. is CHEST PAIN = HEART ATTACK, then protocol two is HEADACHE=STROKE.  A dear friend had to endure endless testing culminating in a painful spinal tap, all the while saying she had had an allergic reaction to Dawn soap.....which is what it did end up being, but no one would listen to her.  Another friend went through a similar situation to mine at another hospital; again CHEST PAIN = HEART ATTACK, endless testing down the cardiac route; hers was acid reflux.

{Which reminds me.....speaking of Heart Attack....does anyone else think that's a really crazy term?  I know there are other technical descriptions for it, but Heart Attack is the prevailing term--attack???  Just hits me weird.}

Ok Lessons.

Some of the great surprises I had during my E.R. visits and hospital stay were the blood pressure readings I was putting out.  I have seen these high numbers before, when I have been in the E.R. following a horse-back riding accident, but I have been working alot on relaxation techniques and various other Zen-ish type applications as I am aware that I tend to be a bit high-strung/type A-ish (one too many 'ish's' in that sentence, but I am digress-ish).  I truly felt I was making vast improvements in these areas and many times I would glance over at the B.P. monitor and just KNOW that it was going to be 117/80 as I truly felt relaxed and had been doing deep breathing, etc. only to be stunned at the extraordinarily high numbers showing.

Clearly, my body has its own agenda and its own 'score card' on how relaxed I am.

If the body is an interface with which I, as a spiritual being, can interact with the physical universe, then it needs to run its own systems and does an amazing job of doing so.  I can't seriously be bothered with all the intricate and myriad inner workings of my body and the design is pretty darn good, but I know that our mental, emotion and, I believe, spiritual state directly influences the body and its systems.

What I realized is that, for myself, I have only viewed that spirit-mind-body-connection from the POSITIVE side of things...i.e. how I can use my positive thinking to heal myself.  I haven't allowed myself to explore the dark side of all of this, viewing it as a personal weakness if I am causing some of this....i.e. 'it's all in your head'.

Facing the reality of those high b.p. readings and the gentle suggestion from my doc that hives could be a result of nerves, I now have to look at these possibilities.

We are hard-wired, like all animals, with a fight/flight response and in times of stress our body wants to mobilize its defenses and be ready to ensure survival.  I think that is what some of those high numbers reflect, but in such a situation, calm on a cellular level is a preferrable state....and worry, does come into play, even though I completely agree with His Holiness the Dalai Lama about the lack of productiveness of worry:  Worry only produces worry as its outcome (or maybe high blood pressure readings).

I have instituted some practices to help me develop in these areas, chief among them the healing art of Qi Gong as well as yoga.  (For more about Qi Gong, see: Interlaced with these practices, I have upped my breathing education and development, finally making time to delve into a book that I've had for some time, that I had acquired for the purpose of relaxing my breath to improve my horsemanship.  We spend so much time breathing shallowly and tend to get more and more shallow as time goes on, thereby mimicking that short-breathed fight/flight response (think when a little thing makes you do that quick intack of air and gasp).  Sometimes, what we really need is more air.  (See:  The Breathing Book, by Donna Farhi   You can pick up a used copy for under $7.  I highly recommend it.)

Which brings me to number one on my 'Survive List':

What do we need to survive and to THRIVE? Oxygen, Water, Rest, that order (more or less, I believe we can go longer without nutrients than rest, but without the nutrients, your body is going to shut down anyway.).

The number one element our bodies need, oxygen, and we spend about zero time studying the breath, improving it, or incorporating the betterment of it into our health programs.

We aren't taught to stay in the natural breathing state that we come into this world possessing and even if we do stop and take a few deep breaths, most of us immediately go back to our habitual breathing.  Farhi explains the added benefits of breath besides the obvious and also explains why we can't just decide to breathe more deeply and have that be that.  I'm now devoting at least 15 mins a day to the study of how to improve my breathing to reap all the benefits and to provide my body with this essential element that every cell in the body needs. (15 minutes doesn't sound like much, but some days it is harder to find that time than others and it is a commitment I know I can keep). Without proper oxygenation, the cells cannot create energy and cannot do their work.

Number two on my 'Survive List':

Water.  How much water do we truly need?  Of course this amount would vary from individual to individual and even with any one person as a reflection of any combination of factors....including temperature, workload, fatigue, stress and so on.  But I was never so keenly aware of the vitalness of simple hydration until collapsing from the lack of it.  My hospital stay didn't supply me with the 2nd most important component of survival and this even though I had an I.V. hub in my arm at all times.  I wasn't allowed to drink; why then weren't fluids administered through the I.V.?  I'll tell you why and this is the number one most important lesson I learned:  BECAUSE I DIDN'T DEMAND IT.  Because I didn't advocate for myself, because I was in a medical facility and turned my care over to the professionals.  Why would I do that?  The basics HAVE to be provided for and one canNOT assume that they will be.  I will not be over-looking these simple requirements for life again and my husband and I have had conversations about this, how we need to advocate for each other and NOT assume the obvious is taken care of.

I have since come to realize that even with the large amount of water I drink, I am probably still far short of what is actually needed by my body.  When you consider that the body is anywhere from 55-75% water depending on the reference you use, the rightful status of water on our priority list becomes clear.

How much water do we really need? The broad strokes are about 64 oz./day with more if we are exercising and in conditions that dehydrate us, i.e. sun/heat. But our individual bodies are the true judge of what we need. We can use a number of indicators including just pinching the skin on the back of our hands and observing elasticity.

It was so ironic that I would become dehydrated to the point of collapse as the big joke in our house is that I don't go get the mail without a bottle of water. I seriously almost always have water with me, but clearly, I had abandoned my body's second most basic need, trumped in importance only by oxygen, and this during a time of extreme stress. I deferred to the 'experts' around me, when clearly they didn't even understand my basic need of water!

I am more aware now of my body's symptoms of needing water and have noticed a drastic reduction in things like the number of times I feel like I need to reach for the chapstick, also an improvement in my skin's overall condition, etc.  The slight ache that precipitates a headache can be a signal to me that I need water.  I'm still playing with this to find what my optimum water consumption is.

{I know there are a couple of conditions that can result from over-consumption of water, but these situations are pretty rare.  In addition to paying attention to the 'bounce-back' elasticity of skin, and other indicators, the color of urine excreted can be should be colorless or light yellow.  (TMI here, but I noticed how dark mine was in the hospital and the nurses/staff were supposed to be monitoring this.  Again, another instance of me dismissing my own observations and turning my care over to the professionals).}.

Oftentimes the simplest solution IS the correct one, but good luck convincing medical staff that there may be a simple explanation for a given condition.  Still, one MUST be vigilant in their own health.  I think about how I interrogate restaurant staff about food preparation methods and ingredients in what I am the rice prepared in chicken broth?  Is there lard in the beans?  Do you add oil when frying veggies on the grill?  I am amazed at instances where even though I have made it clear "NO DAIRY", that when pressing further the waiter will say something like, well there IS butter on the veggies that we grill, but none on the plate.  (Insert hand slap to the forehead here).  So, I think we have to be at LEAST as vigilant, diligent and whatever other kind of -ant/-ent need be when we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of being at the mercy of health care professionals as we are in our day-to-day food screening.  Can I have water?  If no then, how are you going to ensure I am adequately hydrated? many years of education these people have and we have to tell them we need water???  Yes.....yes we do.

To be continued......


Healthy Food 

What does it take for us to eat healthily? I thought I knew these answers and I still believe that I know quite a bit about it, but I am more concerned now with what I do NOT know. We are limited by research done by experts and by the cumulative observations of others as well as anecdotal evidence we run across. It can be a confusing labyrinth to negotiate as we try to plot the healthiest course for ourselves.

But the greatest teacher is right in front of us and in fact is with us 24 hours a day: our body.

Having learned the hard way that it is not a good thing to ignore the subtle (and not so subtle) communications of the body, I am tuning into its wisdom more and more.  I am taking note of things like cramping in the feet or lower extremities, paying attention to early pangs of hunger and thinking more about the freshness of the food I eat and ensuring a variety of nutrients DAILY.

One of the best ways to control the QUALITY of food ingested is the most obvious:  grow it yourself.  Almost everyone has room for at least a patio container garden of sorts, or even a simple herb garden on a kitchen countertop. 

I am fortunate to have space and also a handy husband who has added raised beds for me.  It is a real joy to go out and harvest one's own food.  Other benefits: 
I know exactly what I am, non-GMO seeds. (Check
I know what it is growing in... mostly composted manure from horses that I feed organic hay to and that eat on organic grass pastures.
I control what goes on these added pesticides or anything other than our own water supply and rainfall (which granted I can't control what is in that, but still).
And it is fresh....I can cut it in the morning and have it for wasn't handled by anyone else, didn't go on a truck for days, sit on a shelf in a store, etc. 

I think we have to start thinking deeply about our food sources.  We can't always provide our own in this way, but a focus on what we CAN do is worthwhile.

Butterhead and Red Fire lettuce from my garden

Pest control

Gardening Assistant

Sue, Ohio


  1. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog. You have such a great writing style and it draws me in every time.

    I had a similar experience with chest pains a a year or so ago (pain in my chest radiating down my righ arm) and lots and lots of tests later they never did figure it out. I actually made the transition to being a vegan after that experience and since I have stopped eating meat the pains have stopped. Who knows.....knowing at least that I don't have heart disease is enough for me.

    Take care of yourself and please keep writing!

    1. Wow, Todd, thank you so very much! I never feel very confident about my writing, so that is great feedback for me and means a great deal to me.

      That is very interesting about your experience! I'm glad to hear that your transition to a vegan diet has helped. It really does get your attention doesn't it!?

      Take care too, (definitely have more to write :-),

    2. Oh I love your writing! It's conversational which I like very much. I feel like you're talking to me. If you get a chance venture over to my blog and follow if you like.
      Thanks again for sharing your insight and experiences with all of us!

    3. Thanks, Todd. I AM talking to you! :-) Seriously, that is good to know and what I think I am going for.

      I am enjoying your blog very your style as well.

  2. I'm sorry you had this horrible ordeal and am glad you're coming out the other end well.

    I did want to respond to your point "if protocol one in the E. R. is CHEST PAIN = HEART ATTACK, then protocol two is HEADACHE=STROKE." This is because heart attacks and strokes can kill you if they aren't addressed in the relatively small window when intervention can do some good. Other possible cause of this pain, while distressing and scary and even with possibly long-lasting harmful effects really do have to take second place in the early stages before they know what the problem is (if they ever do). It really is not beneficial to treat you for esophageal spasm or heartburn or a migraine and have it turn out to be a heart attack or a stroke when it is too late to do anything about it.

    I'm sure you do know this, and I certainly don't mean this as an excuse for all of the other crap you had to put up with.

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Thanks for your comment. Oh, I hear you and I totally get it, but what really got me was E.R. Trip #2 when they wanted to run the whole cardiac protocol AGAIN and I had NO symptoms to warrant it!!! I know, first let's keep the patient alive and without knowing what it was initially that caused the chest pain, I could see going that path, but when test after test showed NOTHING and it became increasingly obvious where the pain was, I began to lose my faith in the wisdom of the medical professionals. Cover the vital bases, yes, absolutely, but let's not turn off the thinking process and just go down these paths blindly, ya know???


  3. Thank you again for this post!
    Like Todd I want to say that I always enjoy to read your blog.

    Food for thinking!

    Thank You! Silvia from Germany

    1. Thank you, Silvia....very much appreciated. Working on my next segment.

      Take care,